Loris Karius has played 72 games since the one which defines his career to this point. For many, the former Liverpool goalkeeper could have played 720 and they wouldn’t have the slightest clue how he’d done.
That night in Kyiv, when Real Madrid won their 13th Champions League title will forever be remembered for what the German experienced. Sergio Ramos played a role in Mohamed Salah dislocating his shoulder and Gareth Bale came off the bench to score twice, but Karius’ two errors leading to Madrid goals stole all the headlines after the 2018 final.
In the aftermath Karius received death threats on Twitter which Merseyside Police were forced to look into, while it was discovered after the fact that an early collision with Sergio Ramos had resulted in Karius sustaining concussion from an elbow to the head. Whether it played a role in him rolling the ball into the awaiting Karim Benzema or flapping Bale’s speculative long-distance effort straight into his own net is anyone’s guess.
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Almost five years on, and with Liverpool about to face Real Madrid in the Champions League once more, Karius’ name is all over the back pages again. Now at Newcastle United, the 29-year-old has been thrust unexpectedly into the limelight ahead of the Carabao Cup final on Sunday against Manchester United.
Nick Pope’s sending-off against Liverpool, together with Martin Dubravka’s cup-tied status having played twice on loan for the Red Devils in the earlier rounds, means Karius is set to make his Magpies debut in the Wembley showpiece. A man last seen on English screens leaving one sort of impression in a major final now gets the opportunity to prove that it was no accident that he was playing in a Champions League decider in the first place.
- 29 games played 🥅
- 13 clean sheets 🧤
Karius kept 22 clean sheets in 49 appearances for Liverpool, 13 in 29 in the Premier League. On the road to Kyiv in 2017-18, he shut out six opposition teams. The Reds were harum scarum at best at times, particularly in beating Roma 7-6 on aggregate in the semis, but much of that was down to a wide-open approach to defending rather than solely from the goalkeeper’s quality.
Since being usurped by Alisson Becker that summer and sent out on a two-year loan to Besiktas, Karius has done a decent job of rebuilding his career. In Turkey he was a regular in the BJK side which finished third in successive seasons, conceding barely a goal a game in 2019-20 as part of a solid defensive half of the field. When that campaign ended early due to Covid-19, Karius ended up leaving early as a result of unpaid wages, and he has struggled to gain a foothold since.
In ’20-21 he started only four games on loan with Union Berlin as understudy to Andreas Luthe and when he returned to Anfield for the final year of his contract he was persona non grata. With Alisson, Caoimhin Kelleher and Adrian all ahead of him in the pecking order, Karius had no prospect of playing and was even left out of the club’s official squad list for the second half of the season.
At Newcastle he has also had to bide his time after arriving on a short-term contract, but Sunday gives him a chance to resurrect his reputation – and his career. The Magpies might have lost for only the second time in the Premier League this season on Saturday, but they remain one of the most impressive outfits in the country and will have tens of thousands of fans following them down to London for the club’s biggest date since their Champions League sojourns under the late Sir Bobby Robson.
This is a chance for Loris Karius to prove he’s the excellent shot-stopper he was proving to be before that infamous night in Kyiv. And if the stand-in Newcastle keeper can have the sort of impact he’s capable of at Wembley, then it could turn out well for both player and club.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change